We’re about to get a flood of stories updating us on the latest news involving various Oilers. Someone spent the summer in a gym, someone else worked on their power skating and still another spent time boxing or lifting Lorries on the side of the road. Someone from the same country as someone else will be a great mentor (oldest one mentor, younger one eager) and someone strengthened his legs running up the hill in Walter Payton’s backyard. It is the annual ‘how I spent my summer vacation’ and, even though we know it’s coming and some of it will be ridiculous, there’s something familiar in a good way about hearing the news. Hockey is back, ladies and men. Thank you for the days.
The Athletic is making some major additions across Canada today, it’s an exciting time. Daniel Nugent-Bowman has joined our gang and I’ll be interviewing him on the Lowdown at 11:05 this morning. Jonathan Willis’ team includes Daniel, Minnia Feng, Pat McLean and yours truly this year, plus the fabulous contributors from the national desk like Tyler Dellow, Corey Pronman and Dom Luszczysyn (who has a great item up today, link below). Special offer is here, less than $4 a month! Also, don’t forget to join us later this month (September 24, The Rec Room) for a get together and general merriment. I’m thrilled to be part of this group, hope you join us on the 24th.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Bringing something different to the Oilers beat.
- New Dom Luszczyszyn: 2018-19 season preview Edmonton Oilers.
- Lowetide: Who will win the McDavid-line lottery?
- Lowetide: The 2018-19 Oilers and what may come.
- The Athletic Cross Canada Tour Will hit Edmonton!
- Lowetide: The 2015 draft and what was lost
- Lowetide: Projecting the 2018-19 Oilers opening night roster
- Lowetide: Where will Tobias Rieder land on the Oilers depth chart?
- Lowetide: No. 1 prospect—Evan Bouchard.
- Lowetide: No. 2 prospect—Kailer Yamamoto.
- Lowetide: No. 3 prospect—Ethan Bear
- Lowetide: No. 4 prospect—Ryan McLeod
- Lowetide: No. 5 prospect—Cooper Marody.
- Lowetide: No. 6 prospect—Kirill Maksimov.
- Lowetide: No. 7 prospect—Tyler Benson.
- Jonathan Willis: No. 8 prospect—Caleb Jones.
- Lowetide: No. 9 prospect—Filip Berglund.
- Jonathan Willis: No. 10 prospect—Dmitri Samorukov.
I pay attention to prospects more than anything, watching them progress from unknown to reliable contributors. I follow the scouting reports and track the numbers. Unlike the NHL, there’s a lot we don’t know about prospects playing in most of the rest of the leagues. We don’t know the at-bats (time on ice) so there’s always going to be a gap in knowledge. So, I count arrows, good and bad. Joe Gambardella doesn’t get a lot of love and we may never see him in Edmonton, but I think there might be a player here. Let’s start just before his Oilers career. He had a helluva two-way reputation coming out of college.
- Ryan Lambert, Yahoo Sports: The game Lowell brings to the table every season is hard forechecking and cycling, but few lines have done it to the level of perfection Gambardella, Smith, and Edwardh brought this year. They create so many own-zone turnovers that end up in the back of the net, and leave opposing coaches shaking their heads. Coaches tend to categorize these things as uncharacteristic mistakes, and to some extent that’s true. But the mistakes are very characteristic of what happens when you play the River Hawks. Source
Gambardella entered pro hockey last season and didn’t score a bunch until late in the year. I’m curious about him for two reasons: His skills are somewhat unique among Oilers prospects, and his offense may be more than what the boxcars imply.
CONDORS 5-on-5 GOALS-PER-GAME (FORWARDS)
- Ty Rattie 0.25
- Joe Gambardella 0.24
- Joey Laleggia 0.18
- Dave Gust 0.17
- Brad Malone 0.16
- Patrick Russell 0.15
- Josh Currie 0.15
Gambardella was injured for much of the early portion of the season, came back in the new year and his offense improved. Then he went on a tear in early March and maybe he finally found the range.
- October 2017: 6, 1-1-2
- November 2017: 8, 2-1-3
- December 2017: 1, 0-0-0
- January 2018: 10, 2-3-5
- February 2018: 7, 0-0-0
- March 2018: 12, 7-0-7
- April 2018: 6, 1-1-2
In late January, Paul Gazzola wrote a fine piece for the team website about him, and asked Gambardella about what things he was working on:
- Gambardella: “Trying to work on a quicker release for my shot and different types of skating techniques. You can always improve in any aspect of the game and for me right now, I’m just trying to get a quicker release off and my skating can always get better.”
Music! Gambardella is a new prospect but not a young one. He’ll be 25 on the first of December this year, so his time is now. I think Gambardella has a better chance than we can see from here because of what he brings to the game.
In his 1987 Baseball Abstract, Bill James talked a lot about rookies. The 1986 American League produced a large number of impressive bats (Jose Canseco, Ruben Sierra, Wally Joyner, Cory Snyder, Danny Tartabull) but not many players who had the gloves or arms in the field. James stated that would be the achilles of the draft year and he was right. Injuries and quick moves to the less demanding positions along the defensive spectrum spelled shorter careers and smaller arcs on the curve than those rookie numbers implied.
I think this year will see a lot of change up front, the Oilers are going to make some decisions on players like Drake Caggiula, Jujhar Khaira and Pontus Aberg. I’ve learned over the years that betting on one over another to make it (at a certain talent level) is folly, because luck and coaching preference plays such a big role. That said, if Gambardella can score at a solid rate in the AHL, while continuing to play a consistent two-way game, he’s going to be right there when one of the young NHL forwards flushes from the league. That may happen this season.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, it’s going to be a fun day (we’ll probably get the Oilers rookie camp list in the next 30 hours). Scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal. The Oilers new third jerseys are out, I like them but wonder why Al Hamilton’s number doesn’t appear. I’ll ask Bruce his opinion.
- Daniel Gallen, Penn Live. We’ll chat about the Philadelphia Eagles and their chances of winning a second Super Bowl in a row.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman, new writer for The Athletic Edmonton. Excited to be the first media to interview Daniel, who’ll be covering the Oilers for The Athletic and providing you with outstanding insight. His introductory article is here. We’ll get to know Daniel a little at 11:05 this morning.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!